World's best tasting trout/salmon, guaranteed!
So Good It Changed My Thinking...
November 01, 2007
I admit that at times I'm a bit slow, but when it comes to preparing fresh caught steelhead or salmon I finally, after 25 years of eating fowl tasting fish, found a recipe that makes them taste like fish served in an expensive Detroit restaurant for $35 a plate. It seems I've spent far too long eating bad tasting fish, I mean fishy tasting fish, the kind of food that you would never share with friends, relatives or guests.
One day I took David Payne fishing, a well known Lansing area chef who has a reputation for making delicious salmon and we caught some big fish. Come lunch Dave made fresh salmon on the grill. WOW! It was fantastic!! So good, that it changed my thinking on eating big old trout and salmon.
The grilled flesh had very little fish flavor and I now use the same simple recipe on stream steelhead and the outcome is simply fantastic.
Recently I hosted a pre-Spartan football Saturday grill fest and several guests complimented me on the salmon saying, " it's the finest salmon we've ever eaten, the World's best tasting fish." Know what? I agree. Here's the recipe Dave taught me.
Begin by properly caring for the meat. Keep fish chilled on ice to ensure the flesh is firm. I keep stream fish in cold water and keep them alive until I'm headed to the cooler. Prior to leaving I rip the gills and let the fish bleed out, which removes blood from the meat. If I'm on the boat the fish is immediately dispatched with a club, and then iced down. The trick to good tasting trout/salmon is how well you keep the flesh properly chilled and firm.
Next, filet the fish and remove the skin, lateral line dark meat, slime and blood. Cut each filet into steaks about 4" wide. Put the steaks in a Ziploc bag and keep on ice until ready to serve. Prior to grilling, clean the meat with a towel or cloth, pat the meat to remove water, blood, making the flesh dry and clean.
Now comes the fun part. Cooking fish is easy, takes little time and optimizes the sweet, natural flavor. You use two ingredients: Olive oil and McCormick Montreal Steak seasoning, that's it.
Not just any olive oil but the virgin variety that is "First Cold Press". This oil has more flavor than regular olive oil and keeps the fish from sticking to the grill. It gives fish a flavorful, full-bodied taste from first cold pressing of fresh, ripe olives. Olive oil is heart healthy, cholesterol free, Transfat free and high in "good" monounsaturated fat. My favorite brand is Pompeian extra virgin first cold press sold at all Meijer's stores throughout Michigan.
McCormick Montreal Steak seasoning gives the fish a robust flavor that only a quality mix of herbs and spices can bring. I'm not certain exactly why this particular seasoning makes fish lose its fishy taste but it works like magic. I'm certain pepper has a lot to do with making the fishy taste vanish, combined with other spices such as salt, red pepper, garlic, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural flavor and paprika.
I frequently mix the fish, olive oil and steak seasoning in a Ziploc bag by rolling the fish in the ingredients until the flesh is coated. Other times I pour enough olive oil in a pan, put fish steaks in the oil and flip until the flesh is covered, then season with the Montreal Steak to suit your taste. Some folks like steaks that are grilled throughout with the flesh fully cooked. I like my grilled fish steaks to be brownish on the outside, somewhat overdone, crunchy to bite, yet still flaky in the center. I've found that chilled salmon steaks are fantastic eating too. A bag full of grilled fish makes a perfect lunch on a cold day and is better for your health than fast foods.
When I'm grilling, I like to pour the remaining olive oil over the seasoned steaks until the oil rolls onto the grill and ignites. Close the grill lid and the flaming oil will burn hot, give the cooking flesh a caramelized glaze that seems to bring out the best flavor. Grill on an open grate, the meat will cook better if you do not place the meat on aluminum foil. If you try to flip the steak and it sticks to the grill, let it cook longer. It usually takes about 7-10 minutes cooking time on each side.
The best fish for cooking has orange meat, the brighter the meat, the better the flavor. For some reason when trout/salmon meat turns milky white the flesh takes on the fishy flavor that is a turn-off for this old fishin' buff. Silvery salmon with chrome sides, white belly and orange fleshed steelhead are perfect for this recipe. Male trout/salmon are usually prime candidates for this recipe because their flesh has more muscle and firmer flesh than females. Even a dark male can have ideal meat for the grill. However, female trout and salmon that are into the final stages of spawning have light white flesh and the texture of the flesh is somewhat soft. My suggestion is practice catch and release with any fish that are not suitable for table fare.
Fishing has taken on a whole new dimension for me since I started grilling trout/salmon. Now, I'm fishing for food. There are actually times when I'll land a chromer and my mouth starts to water at the thought of the firm orange flesh on a hot grill. Know what, I've eaten bad fish for over 25 years but now that I've learned how to prepare and cook trout/salmon I love fishing even more.
Summer's end has finally come and salmon trolling has ended but the steelhead run is just getting into high gear. Next time you beach a chromer please keep the fish and try the above recipe. Once you do, you'll be yelling praise, maybe you will consider grilled fish using the above recipe as the "World's Best".